28-29 January 2016

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Lot 240

1985 Ferrari 288 GTO

  • Chassis no. ZFFPA16B000058335

$2,400,000 - $2,800,000

400 bhp, 2,855 cc DOHC mid-mounted V-8 engine with twin IHI turbochargers, Behr intercoolers, and Weber-Marelli electronic fuel injection, five-speed manual transaxle, four-wheel independent suspension, and four-wheel ventilated disc brakes. Wheelbase: 96.4 in.

  • The rarest of Ferrari’s supercars
  • Delivered new with optional air conditioning and power windows
  • Complete service in 2011 at Continental Ferrari of Chicago, Illinois
  • Under 15,000 km from new; Ferrari Classiche certified

Before the Enzo, the F50, and the F40, there was the 288 GTO, Ferrari’s original smiling gift to its best customers and devoted connoisseurs. It was born from the FIA Group B race and rally homologation regulations introduced for 1984, meaning that, like so many great racing cars through time, it was built for the public largely so that racing versions could take to the track. The result was a true supercar without compromises.

The new GTO was developed by the factory specifically for entry in Group B, and as such, 200 road cars were required in order to homologate it for competition. However, Group B was disbanded before Ferrari ever had a chance to enter the series, leaving the car without a series to race in. This did not stop Ferrari from selling the GTO to their most loyal customers though, and 272 examples were built before production ceased. Il Commendatore was still alive at this time and oversaw the appointment of the three most coveted letters in Ferrari history for the first time in two decades. Not only was the 288 GTO to be the first and rarest of the supercars that followed, but the “GTO” moniker would not return to Ferrari’s stable until recently with the 599.

Built on a sturdy tubular steel chassis, it boasted a wheelbase longer than the production 308 GTB, and it rode on four-wheel independent suspension. The new Tipo F114B mid-mounted V-8 was installed longitudinally rather than transversely, and it produced 400 horsepower through four valves per cylinder, Weber-Marelli electronic fuel injection, twin IHI turbochargers, and dual Behr intercoolers.

The doors, boot, and bonnet were lightweight aluminum, while GRP and carbon compound formed the balance of the bodywork—a taste of the carbon fiber to come. The design itself may have superficially resembled the 308 GTB, but it boasted aggressive flared wheel arches to accommodate eight-inch front and ten-inch rear wheels. Larger spoilers were also fitted fore and aft, the result of extensive wind-tunnel testing. The rear wings had three cooling slots behind the wheel, a fitting tribute to the original gran turismo omologato, the 250 GTO.

In the performance-starved 1980s, a top speed of 189 mph made the 288 GTO a veritable rocket ship for the road. Yet, it was also quite comfortable, with leather-upholstered seats, optional air conditioning, electric windows, and a dashboard filled with a 10,000-rpm tachometer, a turbo boost gauge, oil temperature and pressure gauges, and a water temperature gauge, matching the 288 GTO’s level of technical sophistication.


This 288 GTO was finished in the classic Rosso Corsa (300/6) over a Nero (VM 8500) interior and fitted with factory air conditioning and power windows, which were creature comforts not often found on other 288 GTOs. It was sold new by official Ferrari dealer Cris Vandagriff’s Hollywood Sports Cars in Los Angeles, California. It appears that Vandagriff kept this car as his personal car for a number of years, registered on Italian export plates EE 183 AK.

He eventually sold the car nearly a decade later with only 1,000 kilometers showing on its odometer. Roy Polatchek of Orange, California, was the next owner for several years before its acquisition by A.S. Fisher of Greenwich, Connecticut, in whose collection it remained until 1999. Bruce Lustman of Aspen, Colorado, and Tom Horan of Denver are known to have been the subsequent owners, likewise maintaining the car in superb, low-mileage condition.

The current owner added this rare Ferrari to an exemplary collection in 2011, and it has remained wonderfully preserved and properly maintained ever since. It currently only shows about 14,975 kilometers. In its current ownership, the car received a $30,000 complete service in 2011, which was completed by Continental Ferrari of Chicago, Illinois.

Of all the 288s built, however, this is also most certainly one of the best known. Not only was it featured on the cover of Automobile magazine and within the pages of Playboy but, over the years, it has also participated in a number of high-profile Ferrari events, shown to great acclaim at the FCA Annual Meet (1989, 1st in Class), the Ferrari Concours d’Elegance (Monterey, 1994, 2nd in Class), Concorso Italiano (1994), Skeets & Sharon Dunn Picnic (California, 1995 and 1996), FCA Annual Meet (Virginia, 1997), and the Rosso Rodeo Concours d’Elegance (Beverly Hills, 2001). Virtually all of the previous private owners have participated in the aforementioned events—evidence not only of the careful maintenance they lavished on this car but also their status as proper Ferrari enthusiasts who took pride in showcasing the very finest cars at some of the country’s most distinguished events. Perhaps most importantly, its preservation in factory-correct condition after 30 years of history is attested to by the car’s Classiche certification from the Ferrari factory, which confirms the car’s proper presentation and specification as the day it was built.

Even though the 288 GTO might have been initially designed and conceived for use in motorsport, it quickly proved itself to be a very capable road car. While it delivers brutal performance and acceleration thanks to its twin turbochargers, rest assured, the 288 GTO can quickly propel the driver to triple-digit speeds, and the brakes are responsive and very capable of bringing the car back to a stop just as quickly. The interior is comfortable, thanks to its sporting seating position and the added luxuries of factory air conditioning and power windows.

Some of the world’s original “supercars” have had their luster dulled by time. The 288 GTO, the Ferrari supercar from which all others after were born, is different. It has survived the passing years as something still as advanced and exciting as the day that it was built, and in doing so, it has truly captured the spirit of its venerable forefather.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more